The Land Development Agency Bill 2021 (Bill) has been published. Discussed below are the key features of the Bill and what it means for those engaged in property development and property finance in the private and public sectors.
- The purpose of the Bill is to put the Land Development Agency (Agency) on a statutory footing and set out its core objectives and powers in law.
- The Agency’s main function is to develop and manage relevant public land and, where applicable, other lands for the provision of housing for the public good. It will provide services to local authorities to assist them in performing their functions relating to development of sites for housing and urban development in areas with a population of 30,000. The Bill sets out how a local authority can request assistance from the Agency and how the Agency determines if it can provide those services.
- The Agency will be deemed a designated development agency under the Planning and Development Acts 2000 to 2020.
- A “Register of Relevant Public Land” (Register) is to be established by the Agency to identify lands owned by relevant public bodies in areas with a population greater than 10,000 that can be made available for housing. It is intended that the Agency will then have the power to acquire relevant public land at market value, by means of being offered first refusal on a proposed sale by the land-owning public body. The Agency will then assess if the land is fit to be used for the purposes of the Bill and can decide to acquire or refuse to acquire the land.
- The Agency will have CPO powers. However, it may only acquire land compulsorily, through application to Court, where it is required to provide access to or infrastructure for relevant public land or land owned by the Agency and where it is has failed to acquire the land via agreement. The Bill contains a section dealing with the Agency’s CPO powers including compensation.
- The Agency will periodically report to Government in relation to public land on the Register, which may be suitable for housing or urban development. The Government may then decide that certain land be transferred to the Agency for that purpose. The Agency may, with ministerial consent, dispose of land where it is no longer required for the performance of its functions.
- There will be a requirement that a proportion of any housing provided on relevant public land (as defined) and former relevant public land be made available for affordable housing by the Agency or any other party which acquires such land. The Bill sets out certain exclusions for certain relevant public land, including where the body is required to act in a commercial manner.
- The Agency will be established as a Designated Activity Company (DAC) under the Companies Act 2014 to develop and regenerate relevant public land for the delivery of housing. The Bill sets out details on the board and operation of the Agency. The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will be its shareholders. The Agency will be able to borrow money and establish subsidiaries to carry out its purposes.
- The existing Land Development Agency entity, established under statutory instrument, will be dissolved and its functions, assets, liabilities and staff transferred to the new entity.
The Minister for Housing has announced that the aim is for the Bill to be brought through the Oireachtas as quickly as possible, to fulfil one of the Government’s key objectives of increasing housing supply.